Intense handheld zombie frights are in store for viewers daring to take the leap into Quarantine, the American remake of Spain's heralded first-person chiller [REC]. Unfolding in near real time, the pic aims to put the audience into the action of an emergency response call gone horribly wrong. Opening up on reporter Angela Vidal (Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter), the narrative concerns a news crew as they follow a group of firefighters for an overnight shoot. As time drags on through the wee hours of the morning with little to no action for the camera to catch, the station is finally dispatched to an apartment complex where something seems desperately wrong with one of its inhabitants. Once there, the crew sees just how deadly this situation truly is. What follows is a breakneck tale of "keep alive" amidst a contagion that turns its infected into rage-filled maniacs. What's worse, the government has cordoned off the building, leaving everyone inside to battle for his or her own survival. Claustrophobic, jittery at times, and electric in pace, Quarantine is a stripped-down bloody thrill ride that -- while certainly not catering to everyone's tastes -- should satisfy gore-hounds looking to step up their theatrical horror cuisine beyond the usual creepy little kid rehashes.
That's not to say Quarantine is altogether a home run. Fans of its forefather will be a bit shocked that some of the best parts of the ending were not carried over to this near shot-for-shot redo. Where the original took the tale into a whole new creepy arena in its final moments, the remake's filmmaking team of brothers Drew and John E. Dowdle (the duo behind the similarly shot Poughkeepsie Tapes) seem more interested in keeping true to the switch-up of shooting style, rather than also injecting the plot with an added layer of disturbance. New viewers should still find the proceedings to be frightful, even if they are missing a big key as to why the predecessor has stayed ingrained in so many viewers' brains. As it is, the new production is a gruesome exercise in frantic pacing that hardly lets up throughout its 90-minute running time.
Behind the scenes, the production impresses with its long takes and well-choreographed (if a bit hard to discern) set pieces. The cast does what it can with the material, with Carpenter turning up the hysteria when needed and Johnathon Schaech (complete with a bushy 'stache) adding macho heft to the production. All things considered, the picture doesn't do nearly the damage that other remakes have wrought. What story the film has is still a bleak one -- it's just a matter of whether the right people looking for this kind of frenzied experience will find it or not. Even more of a question to ask is why the American production yearned so much to adhere to scene-by-scene reenactments, only to wimp out when it came to the well-regarded finale? Then again, this is the same studio that decided to give away many of the twists and turns in all of the movie's advertising, so maybe audiences should take what they get and at least be thankful for that. leave a comment --Jeremy Wheeler